Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Monday, September 27th, 2021

If today's newsletter as an overall theme, it's that I am annoyed.

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Monday, September 27th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities, where AllYourScreens HQ is still trying to get his Packers-loving son to go to sleep.

I am generally not a fan of media consolidation. Investors love it, many media industry reporters take the idea of media company consolidation as a necessary element of survival. And most of the time, they are wrong. The problem with Viacom/CBS isn't that the company isn't big enough. It's that Shari Redstone and other company executives have been bad stewards of the company. A lack of scale isn't the reason why Paramount+ is a second-tier streaming service.

One of the other arguments for consolidation is the supposed advantages for consumers. Even proponents of consolidation often have difficulty clearly defining what that advantage might be. You hear a lot of talk about how the proposed WarnerMedia/Discovery merger is going to bring all sorts of magical advantages for consumers. But as far as I can tell, the merger will mostly make it even easier for the combined company to use its size to bully competitors and force partners to pay ever-increasing licensing and carriage fees. All of which will inevitably be passed on to consumers. 

NBCUniversal and Google are in a carriage dispute over YouTube TV. An agreement between the two companies expires on September 30th and NBCU is warning customers that all of their channels will be gone from YouTube TV unless Google agrees to its terms. Google's response is to promise to drop the price of the service $10 a month for as long as the dispute continues.

Now it's hard to know which side to root for when you're talking about Comcast Vs. Google. But reading a piece in Variety about the dispute, this paragraph jumped out at me:

According to Google, NBCU has asked that YouTube TV bundle Peacock, NBC’s own direct-to-consumer streaming service. That would mean that, in some cases, subscribers pay twice for the same content. In addition, subscribers would need to download and use the Peacock app separately from YouTube TV.

So how does forcing YouTube TV to bundle Peacock TV help the consumer? Oh, it's a great deal for NBCU if they can get it. But this is another case of a massive media company leveraging its size to try and force a rival into doing something that is against their best interest as well as something that is bad for consumers.

This is just a thought. But if you are trying to prove to consumers that your new-ish streaming service has value, maybe forcing it on unwilling customers isn't the best approach.

Netflix held its first global online event for fans on Saturday, which included a number of new trailers, premiere announcements and casting information. The event was named "Tudum," for the sound that subscribers hear when they sign onto the service and it was a three-hour live extravaganza that mentioned 28 movies and 78 TV shows. Click here to see a list of what was mentioned, but I wanted to focus on a couple of related issues.

It's hard to get a handle on how many people watched the live streams, since each regional Netflix YouTube account was carrying a separate feed. But no matter the number, I am disappointed that Netflix hasn't created at least an edited version of the event to stream on the main service for a limited amount of time. Given the fact that Netflix is mobile-centric in a lot of emerging territories and that not everyone has three hours to devote to a fan event, figuring a way to take that content and reach the couple of hundred million global streaming subscribers seems like a slam dunk.

To its credit, the service did add the trailers premiered at Tudum to the relevant show pages. For instance, the show page for Stranger Things includes the new season four trailer as well as a notice that "It's official, Stranger Things is returning in 2022." But not excerpting the Tudum fan event for subscribers feels as if they are leaving free engagement on the table.

The other thing that strikes me about this is somewhat inside baseball. But the Television Critics Association just wrapped up its summer sessions with various networks and streamers, including Netflix. There was a time when at least some of the announcements made at Tudum would have been given to TV critics. But Netflix's session with critics was limited in scope and it played into the streaming service's preference to connect directly with its subscribers whenever possible. 

Here is a complete list of this week's TV and streaming premieres,
finales, specials and movies. But if you don't want to wade through a hundred or so titles, here are a few highlights from each day:

Midsomer Murders Season Premiere (Acorn TV)
Nick Cannon Series Premiere (Syndicated)
The Good Doctor Season Premiere (ABC)

Ada Twist, Scientist Series Premiere (Netflix)
La Brea Series Premiere (NBC) - [first five minutes video]

Big Brother Season Finale (CBS)
Friendzone (Netflix)
Houses With History Series Premiere (HGTV)
No One Gets Out Alive (Netflix)
Rhodes To The Top (TNT)

Big Sky Season Two Premiere (ABC)
Cake Season Premiere (FXX)
Grey's Anatomy Season Premiere (ABC) [sneak peek video]Luna Park Series Premiere (Netflix)
Queenpins (Paramount+)
Station 19 Season Premiere (ABC) [sneak peek video]The Problem With Jon Stewart Series Premiere (Apple TV+)
Unidentified With Demi Lovato Series Premiere (Peacock)

All Or Nothing: Toronto Maple Leafs (Amazon)
Blue Bloods Season Twelve Premiere (CBS)
Diana: The Musical (Netflix)
Eli Roth's History Of Horror (AMC)
From Grandma, With Love Preview (Discovery+/Magnolia)
Lego Star Wars Terrifying Tales (Disney+)
Magnum P.I. Season Four Premiere (CBS)
Maid Series Premiere (Netflix)
SWAT Season Five Premiere (CBS)
The Guilty (Netflix)
The Many Saints Of Newark (HBO Max)
Welcome To The Blumhouse: Bingo Hell (Amazon)
Welcome to the Blumhouse: Black As Night (Amazon)

Frankie Drake Mysteries Season Four Premiere (Ovation)
Saturday Night Live With Owen Wilson And Kacey Musgraves (NBC)

America's Funniest Home Videos Season Thirty-Two Premiere (ABC)
Call The Midwife Season Ten Premiere (PBS)
The Walking Dead: World Beyond Season Premiere (AMC)

A strike by the West Coast chapters of the IATSE seems increasingly likely, and union members are already trying to figure out how to financially survive an extended strike, especially since many of them are already struggling (which is one of the motivations for the proposed work stoppage).

This entire thread is filled
with good suggestions for both IATSE members and other industry supporters. But there was one suggestion that I thought was genius, although it has now been deleted. The tweet suggested that while striking IATSE members wouldn't qualify for unemployment, if a showrunner was to fire someone a day or two before the strike officially began, the worker would be able to collect unemployment during the strike.

I spend a lot of time writing about streaming service UX issues, in large part because I don't think enough attention is paid to how usable a service is to the average customer. The greatest content in the world will only get you so far if the service is annoying to use on a regular basis. Sometimes the smallest things can color the way that we see a product and whether we will continue to use it in the future.

I'm not an Apple product person. I've owned Apple products in the past and some of them are really useful. But I am just one of those people who resents being forced to stay in a specific tech ecosystem in order for my products to work seamlessly with each other.

And that is my biggest complaint about Apple TV+. You can't just subscribe to the streaming service. In order to do so, you have to create an Apple ID, which ties your identity in the Apple ecosystem to your email address and Apple ID. Which can lead to some annoying problems. 

I have an Apple TV box I have recently begun using and it's fine (other than having the worst remote control ever created). But it's tied to my profile and Apple ID, which turned out to be a problem, since my family's Apple TV+ account has my wife's email address associated with it. So the only way we can use it on our Apple TV box is by adding her profile and switching to it when we want to watch Apple TV+. Which is annoying enough. But to do that, I need to verify my wife's Apple ID account and the way that Apple does that is by asking for the CVV security number from the credit card on file. Which turns out to be an ATM card that I have recently had to replace.

Yes, I contacted Apple and I am sure I will hear back sometime in the next month. But the entire process is just needlessly complicated. If I was able to simply input the email address associated with the Apple TV+ plus account - which is the way every non-Apple streaming app works - I would be able to watch Apple TV+ in my living room instead of having to watch it on my laptop or via the Roku app on my bedroom TV.

Is this a life or death issue? No. But it's the perfect example of letting marketing alienate your customers. Now granted, none of that concerns the Borg-like Apple empire. But it is a good reminder to consider how your customers might use your product.

* Here's a recap of Sunday night's 
episode of Big Brother.

* Commander Cody (born George Frayne) of his Lost Planet Airmen, died of cancer Sunday morning. While the band only had one real radio hit (a cover of "Hot Rod Lincoln"), they were a distinctive and often quirky band in the classic rock era.


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